The Customer Isn’t Always Right, And Neither Are You

So, we’ve got our product, and we know it’s the coolest. We know it’s going to be successful, change the world, and chisel our name into history. That’s what we should be feeling. If we don’t feel that, then we need to question what we’ve got, maybe make some changes.

Aaaaand then reality sets in. Sales don’t come out as well as we wanted, just then another business opens with almost the exact same product, but with a tweak that’s getting everyone else’s attention, and everyone’s pretty keen to point out your product’s flaws.

That’s when my new-to-business brain threw up its hands ready to throw in the towel. My debut novels weren’t flying off the shelves like they were supposed to, I hadn’t gotten to meet John Green, I didn’t even have a line of people at book signings waiting for me. It seemed my product had failed, or that the market had no room for what I was bringing to the table.

I took a step back at my approach, and found a list of flaws in what I was doing to get my book out there. I went back and re-vamped my website, starting other projects to showcase my work, and most importantly, learned patience.

Then I went back out there with a fresh outlook and a better line-up. Surely this time there would be book signings, invitations to TV shows, and a flood of pictures on Pinterest. My second novel had been cleaned up, I had new bookmarks ready to go, and even had QR codes for all the smartphone savvy.

I got ignored. I pulled my hair, might have even flipped a table in frustration. “What did I do wrong?” I shouted to the heavens. Someone who had been nearby pointed out a list of stuff, such as my story needed more of X and less of Y. When I pressed for something more solid than opinion, I was told I was being defensive. That person ended with that old line we love so much “the customer is always right. If you want to succeed, that’s who you have to listen to.”

Really? We’ve got a site completely dedicated to customers who don’t have a clue what’s going on, and that’s the demographic that I have to listen to in order to succeed?

These two ideas have been the biggest lesson in business for me. I’m not always right, no matter how much I believe it, but neither is the customer. Sometimes they’re just full of it to.

What do I listen to, then, if both I, the creator, and the customer, the consumer, are wrong?


The first part is you, your product, and your vision, mission, and goals. Those are the whole reason we are doing this thing. Establish that structure first.

Then look at the second part, which is your customers. What they’re saying, how they’re saying it, and how often it’s being said. Ignore what can’t be quantified and adapt what’s left over into the structure you have in place.

Those two ideas have made all the difference for how I approach my business and my hope for future success.

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